What new World of Hyatt program means for cardholders

Hyatt is rebooting its Gold Passport loyalty program (and renaming it “World of Hyatt”) on March 1. While nothing is ostensibly changing with Hyatt’s co-branded credit card (issued by Chase), some of the program changes affect cardholders. And, in some cases, having a Hyatt credit card will help you weather some potential status downgrades in the new program.

What’s changing

The change from Gold Passport to World of Hyatt is an overhaul of elite status and how you earn it. The Points Guy has detailed charts comparing the new elite tiers to the old (as well as their benefits and requirements).

Here’s a quick run-down:

Old Hyatt Gold Passport program tiers

  • Member
  • Platinum (The Hyatt Credit Card automatically gave you this status)
  • Diamond

New World of Hyatt program tiers

  • Member
  • Discoverist (The Hyatt Credit Card automatically will give you this status)
  • Explorist
  • Globalist

The other big change: Hyatt is changing how you earn and increase your elite status:

Old program: Earning elite

  • Elite status could be earned via stays OR nights

New program: Earning elite

  • Elite status will be earned via nights OR qualifying spend at Hyatt properties. No more increasing your status via stays. You’ll earn 5 “base points” per dollar when you stay with Hyatt. These points will help you qualify for elite status. For example, Discoverist status (if you don’t have the Hyatt Credit Card, which gives it automatically) requires earning 25,000 base points in a calendar year. That boils down to $5,000 in Hyatt spending.

This new base-point requirement option rewards those who spend more with Hyatt. Rewarding big spenders is also a model various airlines have been adopting.

What this means for Hyatt Credit Card holders

Compared with the old program, the automatic status granted by the card is a slight downgrade. Platinum status (automatically given with the old program) gave you a 15 percent point bonus on stays. Discoverist status (automatically given with the new program) gives you just a 10 percent bonus. However, if you apply for the card before March 1, 2017, you’ll get an additional 5 percent point-bonus for stays, bringing you up to 15 percent, through Feb. 28, 2018.

The Hyatt Credit Card will also give you this leg up: if you spend $50,000 on the card in a calendar year, you will get bumped up to Explorist status for the following calendar year. As we found in our survey of hotel programs, it’s rare for a card to let you earn higher-level elite status through spending alone. So this perk could be a valuable one if you can’t earn Explorist status via nights/base points.

And, of course, the Hyatt Credit Card will still provide a free anniversary night at a Category 1-4 property. That’s a valuable perk, as, without the card, Hyatt’s new program requires you to jump through some hoops to get the same thing. For example, you can get a free (Category 1-4) night after staying at 5 different Hyatt brands. Or, you can get it by staying 30 qualifying nights. By holding the Hyatt Credit Card, you don’t have to worry about any of that. If you still want to worry about all of that, you’ll end up with additional free nights, plus the one you already get with the card.

If this all seems too complicated

If you’re not a fan of Hyatt’s new program and aren’t interested in getting its co-branded card, consider a flexible travel-rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Business Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve or any of the Membership Rewards cards from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner). These cards allow you to transfer points to a variety of hotel and even airline loyalty programs, so you’re not bound to one chain.

The Chase cards are notable in that they allow you to transfer directly to Hyatt’s program (in addition to Marriott and IHG), so you don’t have to abandon Hyatt entirely. American Express’s Membership Rewards cards, meanwhile, let you transfer to Starwood and Hilton.

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